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French Journalist Florence Shaal Revisits Beslan.

© UNICEF/2006/Russia/Vano Vazagov/
Florence Shqaal in Beslan, Russian Federation.

By Bela Tsugaeva

31 March 2006, Beslan, Russian Federation : Florence Shaal, a famous French journalist, recently revisited Beslan to take part in the inauguration of a Family Centre opened by UNICEF, jointly with the Ministry of Education and Science of North Ossetia, and thanks to French, German and Italian contributions.

Mme Shaal was with the people of Beslan during the terrifying three-day school siege of August 2004 and witnessed the horrors that engulfed the small town. She shot a documentary about that tragedy and published a book «I will never forget Beslan», which helped her to mobilize resources for the creation of a Family Centre.

“I admire the people of Beslan,” said Florence Shaal during the inauguration of the Centre. “You went through the tragedy with such dignity. I want you to know that the people of France and the whole world support you and will never forget Beslan,” she added. 

A delegation including H.E. Jean Cadet, the French Ambassador to Russia, and his wife, two counselors from the French Embassy to Russia and Carel de Rooy, UNICEF Area Representative in the Russian Federation and Belarus, also participated in the inauguration of the Centre.

Florence Shaal recognized many of the faces at the opening ceremony. She remembered them by name. And they looked at her with esteem. They spent many dreadful hours together. She was with them during the most difficult time in their lives, gave them her support - the only thing she could offer - when hundreds of people, most of them children, were carried out from the gym of the School Number One dead or wounded.

When she returned to France after that tragic event she spent long hours thinking of how to help the families of Beslan cope with their losses and stress. And the idea of creating a Family Centre came to her mind.

“I hope the Centre will help rehabilitate families in Beslan,” she said standing in front of the board with the name of the Centre written on it, BINONTÆ, meaning ‘a family’ in Ossetian. “I want to believe that the Centre will help families unite, be stronger and happier, so that the children of Beslan will smile again,”she added.

The delegation also met the Head of the North Ossetia Government, Mr. Mamsurov, with the Committee of Beslan Mothers, who lost their children during the tragedy. Together, they  visited School Number One and the cemetery of the victims of the school siege.



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